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College Hockey:
Betting the ranch, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Northeastern

This past week I learned that I could always eat one more drumstick. But that’s not material for this blog (nor, sadly, is it very surprising).

Onward, then, to the three Hockey East things I think I learned.

1. If I were a betting man, I’d have lost the ranch.

I’d have wagered every shekel I had on Boston College beating Holy Cross last Friday. Especially at home. Admittedly, the Eagles had lost to Maine at Alfond but that seems to be happening to everyone this year and was clearly the outlier in a 6-1-1 recent record. BC couldn’t possibly lose at home to a 3-9-0 Atlantic Hockey team.

Wrong!

And I’d have put almost every shekel on New Hampshire beating a struggling Harvard squad last Tuesday as well. Again, at home.  The Crimson had lost five of their last six while the Wildcats had turned around a rough start with six wins in their last seven. A cakewalk to be sure.

Wrong, again!

2. New Hampshire is back!

Clearly, the aforementioned loss to Harvard is the outlier. While it dropped UNH’s nonconference record to an ugly 2-4-1 at the time — a mark that will do the Wildcats no favors come NCAA tournament selection time — it sure looks like a fluke now.

The Wildcats traveled to Colorado College this past weekend and not only swept their struggling hosts, but did so in impressive fashion, 6-2 and 3-0. UNH is now 8-2 over its last ten and appears to have recovered from a brutal 1-5-1 start.

A challenging home-and-home series with BC remains before the holiday break and poor performances there could wipe out a lot of the momentum generated in this recent stretch, but for now at least, the Wildcats have reassumed their accustomed place near the top of the Hockey East pecking order.

3. Vermont and Northeastern are a lot better than I’ve been giving them credit for.

Yes, I know I’ve said this before, but based on their recent performances, I still have to ratchet up my impressions of these two teams.

In the preseason, I picked the Huskies to finish dead last in the league and Vermont barely above them in ninth place. (The two sandwiched Massachusetts.)

Well, Northeastern ain’t finishing in last place. No way, no how.

The Huskies’ win over Notre Dame to take the Shillelagh Tournament won’t count in the standings, but it shows how far they’ve come. They rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat the 11th-ranked team on its own ice.

As for the Catamounts, their sweep of Maine gives them four straight wins. While both of this weekend’s victories go in the nonconference ledger (their earlier split at Maine counted for the Hockey East standings), they toppled a team coming off a 7-0 demolition of Boston University and a 5-1 spanking of BC.

If you’re going to discount Vermont’s wins over Maine by saying that the Black Bears are almighty at home (where they’re 6-1-0) while less than tame on the road (where they’re 0-5-1), I will concede you that point. But then I’d ask, who gave Maine that one loss at Alfond?

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